WHAT IS TEXTERS THUMB: Texter’s thumb also known as “Gamers thumb” or “Smartphone Thumb” is formally called De Quervain Tenosynovitis. It is the painful swelling of the tendons that control thumb movement. The tendons over the wrist go through individual tunnels. The inflamed and swollen tendons rub against the narrow tunnel thereby causing pain at the base of thumb that can radiate up into the tip of the thumb and into the forearm.
CAUSES: Generally, this form of thumb tendinitis is due to a Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) in the thumb and wrist. In the activity of texting, the problem is not necessarily the tip of thumb pressing the keys, but the frequent traveling of the inflamed tendon through a tightened tunnel. This can cause pain when the wrist is flexed or when forming a fist or when grabbing an object.
TREATMENT: Texting Thumb can initially be treated conservatively with anti-inflammatory medication (NSAIDS) and a thumb spica brace, which allows the thumb to rest. Modification of activities will also help, such as switching to another finger or slowing the speed at which you text with your thumb. If these options fail, the surgeon can also try a steroid injection into the tunnel where the tendons are inflamed. Lastly, if all other treatment options fail, an outpatient surgery can be performed to release the tunnel that is compressing the swollen and inflamed tendons.
WHEN TO SEE YOUR DOCTOR: You should seek treatment when the pain is moderate to severe and is affecting your ability to use your thumb without pain.